Complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) about Optus’ services have started to drop more than six months after the telco’s massive September data breach.
As detailed in the TIO’s Quarterly Report Quarter 3, 5,332 complaints were made about Optus, falling 17 per cent during the third quarter of the 2023 financial year.
This made up 30 per cent of complaints about the top 10 most complained about telcos.
The downturn in complaints comes over six months after the September data breach, which saw up to 9.8 million customers affected with the telco placing $140 million aside as an ‘exceptional expense’ towards recovery activities.
For comparison, in Q2 there were 6,436 complaints, which made up 36 per cent of the top 10 telco complaints. At the time, TIO Cynthia Gebert said that the quarter’s results “really [highlighted] the problems people are experiencing because of the breach.
Meanwhile, complaints about Optus spiked in the last week in Q1, but were only at 4,627 by the end of the three months to September 2022, meaning they have not reached pre-breach levels.
“The Optus data breach is not causing an influx of complaints as it did in the beginning," Gebert said. "Although Optus’ overall complaint numbers are still higher than what they were before the data breach occurred, they have decreased significantly this quarter. Some of the complaints about the data breach are still in the process of being resolved by my office."
In response to the decline, Maurice McCarthy, Optus’ managing director for customer success, said that the telco "continues to act on its commitment of doing better for our customers to regain their trust".
"We’ll continue to work hard to bring these numbers down further to align with our vision," she said.
In Q3, in addition to Optus, iiNet and TPG also saw a decrease in complaints, falling by 13 per cent to 549 complaints and 2 per cent to 506 complaints, respectively.
The rest of the top 10 saw complaints rise over the quarter, with Telstra remaining on top, rising by 4 per cent to 7,101 complaints.
On the whole, all complaints remained relatively steady, declining by 0.7 per cent quarter-on-quarter, to 17,777. However, when compared to the same period last year, this represents a decline of over 18 per cent.
Additionally, Gebert said there was a “dramatic” rise of complaints about the quality of internet services, increasing by 8.5 per cent during the three-month period.
In particular, complaints about intermittent service or drop-outs were up 32 per cent across the National Broadband Network (NBN) and non-NBN networks compared to Q2.
“Substantial increases were recorded in complaints about getting connected to an NBN service, problems with a bill and service quality issues such as drop-outs and slow data speeds,” she said.
“While complaints about mobile services decreased this quarter, these problems continue to make up just under half the complaints we receive. Given the importance of mobile phones to Australian consumers, it is concerning this proportion continues to remain high. “I encourage the telcos to keep working on their customer service to ensure that these problems get resolved before people need help from my office.”